Sunday, February 4, 2007

Red Hats in Nursing Homes

Increasing numbers of nursing homes are opening up to creative ways for spicing up patients’ lives. But I was still a little surprised the first time I arrived at a nursing home and discovered a roomful of fun-loving ladies, all wearing red hats personalized with their own “hatitude.” For those of you who don’t know what hatitude is, let me explain. Hatitude is your hat's unique fashion statement about the self that is you. A hat will tell you how it has to be “worked” so it can show the world who you are, write your unwritten signature.

Why were all those ladies wearing red hats complemented by purple outfits? They had started their own Red Hat Society chapter. In recent years, these chapters have spread across the country like reality shows. The original Red Hat Society was started by Queen Mother Sue Ellen Cooper and a group of women celebrating their half-century rite of passage into middle-aged freedom. They officially committed to being carefree, silly and supportive of one another in sisterhood as they aged. Wow! Imagine that in a nursing home!

Red Hat Society chapters in nursing homes have joined the merrymaking with invigorating activities, such as tea parties, luncheons, beauty makeovers, cooking classes and trips. Games parties, of course, include Red Hat bingo with Red Hat door prizes. With names like Red Hat Hotties and Crimson Cuties, there’s no denying that their Red Hat presence casts a mystic spell. When nursing home ladies get serious about working their hats, while having a rousing good time, it’s a major spirit uplift for everybody wearing and watching red hats. Are any Red Hatters at nursing homes reading this? If so, what does your group enjoy doing?

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

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